Court of Appeal Judges uphold judgement in case involving former BTB Director
The judges of the Court of Appeal have dismissed the appeals by Prime Minister John Briceño and RSV Limited/Love FM. The appeals came after Justice Westmin James ruled in August 2021 that comments made by the Prime Minister and the subsequent news story, which came from those comments, were defamatory. The PM’s attorneys, E. Andrew Marshalleck together with Stacey Castillo and RSV Limited’s attorney, Deshawn Arzu-Torres appealed the original decision and it was heard today in a virtual session. Marshalleck S.C. argued that the trial judge erred in determining that the words – uttered by the Prime Minister and broadcasted by Love News — were not defamatory in their natural and ordinary meaning and/or when used in Belize. RSV appealed on the grounds that the trial judge erred in law and/or misdirected himself in holding that the defence of qualified privilege and innocent dissemination was not available on the evidence as presented. RSV had put forth that the interview by PM Briceno was published innocently and cannot be viewed as any attack on Bevans herself. Moreover, it was clear from the audiovisual presentation of that interview that there was no malice evident. The interviewer in this case presented various matters concerning public interest and inquired of the Prime Minister of his intentions or plans for reforms to prevent abuse of power and execute new employment initiatives. There was also an appeal of the award of damages, which the Company felt was excessive and inordinate. However, having heard the arguments, the appellate judges dismissed the appeals and the original judgment was upheld.